Rather than buy a Pebble (I just didn't like the design, to be honest), the Sony SmartWatch (Android-only), or slap a Nano on a NATO-style strap, I started looking at the Frame from MetaWatch. I had briefly written about the MetaWatch in a post for the Prodigal Guide, having been intrigued by the hybrid analog-digital display. The range has since been expanded to include the MetaWatch Strata, a slightly more robust looking version of the original Frame, and the model for which I plumped. MetaWatch was purchased by group of investors back in 2011 from Fossil Watches / Sony Ericsson and is currently run by Bill Geiser and David Rosales, who previously led the Watch Technology Division at Fossil. Unlike many other smart watches, MetaWatch focuses on the App, rather than the watch, which effectively turns the smart watch into a dumb terminal on which content can be displayed. While limiting the "smartness" of the watch itself, this obviously comes with significant benefits, as long as the hardware is largely future-proof.
The first challenge when buying a MetaWatch is getting it into the UK: due to the somewhat over-zealous charges applied by the UK Post Office, you can expect to pay about £40 ($60) on top of the
$179 $129 plus delivery (another $50). With the recent price drop, the shipping and taxes look even more silly, although it's hard to blame MetaWatch for this. The Strata is MetaWatch's sportier model, water-resistant to 5ATM; "double injection moulded PU, co-moulded with a tough PC poly case", the Strata looks tougher than the Frame, and when on the wrist, brings to mind the feeling of wearing a dive computer, rather than a digital (or indeed mechanical) watch. With six flush pushers (three along each side of the watch), this looks like a tool, not a fashion accessory.
|Charging the MetaWatch Strata|
From reading about MW, and observing the Tweets from CEO Bill Geiser, it's clear that the concept behind the watches - Hands Freedom™ - is a driving force. Hands Freedom™ is how Bill describes the reduction in "friction" that, for example, an iPhone can cause: a simple glance at one's wrist is perceived to be less intrusive that reaching for one's 'phone to check a message. I understand the aim, and the philosophy, but I sometimes struggle with the *politeness* of the smart watch. Just because you *can* check your messages (or even Facebook updates) surreptitiously during a meeting, does this mean that you should? I must admit that I'm far more interested in potential developments in communications from the watch to MWM (e.g. pre-programmed messages in response to 'phone calls similar to those available from the Lock Screen).
So. Am I going to continue on the road towards Hand Freedom™? Will you see me rebranding as a #smartwatchnerd? Possibly. Mechanical and "smart" watches are (in my mind) a world apart: the raison d'être of the former is to tell the time, while the latter aims to tell you almost everything else. Time is a secondary feature. Interestingly, the Tamagotchi Gesture so famously described by William Gibson continues with the MetaWatch; it requires a charge approximately every three to four days. When I wear the MetaWatch, my interactions with my 'phone change considerably: I'm far more inclined, for example, to use iCal to record upcoming events than when wearing a "normal" watch. I also find myself setting the Strata to display, for example, the weather (both current and a forecast for tomorrow). Why? I'm not sure. I think I'd better wear it a bit more and find out...